David's Blog

On this page, I'll share my thoughts, and any articles or information I think are of interest.  Feel free to use the comments section to join in the discussion!

leaving money on the table

These agents are one of if not THE worst in leaving money on the table… in the last 2 years alone, they have cost their clients AT LEAST $100 million(Chris Sale, Brian McCann).


Catchers are one of THE hardest positions to fill. The midpoint of the numbers filed for arbitration this year was $3.025 million and average salary is just under $4 million. So if he would have only earned average salaries for his service group year by year (3+ $2.5 million, 4+ $4 million, 5+$ 9 million = $15 million) he would only have to get a $13 million contract for his first year of Free Agency to equal the guarantee he received on this deal. The current number a team MUST offer a Free Agent player to get compensation is $15 million so if you add that to the figures above, he was practically guaranteed $30 million already.


Had he become a Free Agent, after no more than average production, he would have received AT LEAST a 5 year contract for $100 million dollars meaning he cost himself, at minimum $5million in his first year of Free Agency to achieve the security of a contract the paid him $2 million less than he would have achieved through just getting average salaries year by year.


Had he gone one more year (and if he had a better agent) he would have likely doubled what this deal offers him.  




Reds Extend Devin Mesoraco

By Tim Dierkes [January 26, 2015 at 1:30pm CST]

The Reds have locked up one of their core young pieces, agreeing to a four-year extension with catcher Devin Mesoraco the team has announced.  With three years and 28 days of Major League service, the 26-year-old backstop had been arbitration eligible for 2015 for the first time and had been under team control through 2017.  Mesoraco is a client of Jet Sports Management.


Mesoraco will receive a $28MM guarantee, MLBTR has learned. He receives a $500K signing bonus and will earn $2.4MM in 2015, $4.9MM in 2016, $7.2MM in 2017 and $13MM in 2018.  The contract also contains an additional $2MM worth of performance bonuses for a max of $30MM over the four-year term.

Mesoraco’s 2018 salary will jump by $400K each time he reaches 502 plate appearances from 2015-17, and he’ll earn $150K for each All-Star nomination, Gold Glove or Silver Slugger he picks up.  Mesoraco can also receive $200K for finishing in the top 5 of the MVP voting, $150K for finishing sixth through 10th, $100K for finishing 11th through 15th and $50K for finishing 16th through 20th.  While there are more than $2MM worth of incentives present in that breakdown, the contract places a $2MM cap on what he can earn.

A first-round pick by the Reds out of high school in ’07, Mesoraco broke out in a big way in 2014.  He hit .273/.359/.534 with 25 home runs in 440 plate appearances, making the All-Star team for the first time and earning a pair of down-ballot MVP votes.  Mesoraco led all catchers in home runs and slugging percentage, and ranked fifth in wins above replacement and on-base percentage.

The Reds cleared a path to more playing time for Mesoraco last offseason by flipping longtime backstop Ryan Hanigan to the Rays in a three-team deal that also netted them lefty David Holmberg from Arizona, and the move looks to have paid off handsomely for both team and player.  The four-year term on Mesoraco’s deal allows him to secure his first fortune by locking in a year of free agent money while still allowing him to hit the open market at the age of 30.

Mesoraco had exchanged arbitration figures with the Reds earlier this month.  The $3.025MM midpoint of those figures exceeded MLBTR’s projection of a $2.8MM salary for Mesoraco in 2015.


“For me, it was a matter of being a student of the game and learning the league.”


Sunday Notes: Adam Everett on D, Norris’ Notoriety, Boggs & Beer, more

by David Laurila - January 25, 2015

Per the second edition of The Fielding Bible, “From 2003 through 2007, Everett was the best shortstop in the game. It wasn’t even close.”

Adam Everett, who played from 2001-2011, mostly with the Astros, was awarded no traditional Gold Gloves during his career. Omar Vizquel and Jimmy Rollinswere two of the reasons. Everett’s pop-gun bat was another, but that’s a topic for another day.

He’s aware of his analytics-based accolades. In 2012, Everett was a special assistant in Cleveland, and he’s spent the past two seasons as the infield coordinator – and briefly the bench coach – in Houston. His reading and comprehension levels go well beyond “The Error of My Ways: A Dinosaur’s Guide to Defense.”

“The Fielding Bible kind of revolutionized things,” Everett told me earlier this week. “For a lot of teams, it became, ‘How much (measurable) value does this guy bring beyond an offensive standpoint?’ It put defense on the map a little more.”

Quantifying defensive value is one thing. Playing defense is another. Everett credits former Astros coach Doug Mansolino – “He’s the guy who got me over the hump” – for much of his development. He also acknowledged former managers Jimy Williams – “a tremendous infield teacher” – and Phil Garner. Each gave him free rein to position himself on the field.

Everett studied spray charts, but they didn’t serve as an end-all-be-all. He relied a lot on his knowledge of opposing hitters, as well his own pitching staff.

“If Roy Oswalt was on, I’d need to play this guy one way, and this guy another way,” explained Everett. “If Roy wasn’t on, I knew I’d need to switch that up. When we played the Cardinals, if Albert Pujols was struggling coming into our series, he’d be trying to hit the ball to right field. For me, it was a matter of being a student of the game and learning the league.”

His thoughts on shifting follow the same line of reasoning. Houston employed more shifts than any team in baseball last year, but Everett feels they can’t be fully effective without educated instincts. He isn’t an advocate of absolutes.

“I spent the last month in the big leagues and saw shifting work a lot,” said Everett. “But I think a lot has to do with your pitchers, how well they hit their spots and how hard they throw or don’t throw. It also has to do with your position players – their first steps and how much ground they cover once they get going – and the hitters’ percentages. It also depends on how you define a shift.”

Everett’s suggestion that some shifts are subtler than others is spot on. No longer do all teams position in a strictly traditional manner, with infielders evenly spaced between bases. I asked how Houston does it.

“We have our method, just like everybody has their method,” answered Everett, somewhat evasively. “I do think there’s a certain place you play a lefty for straight up, or a righty for straight up, but that’s also something many teams have always done. It’s just more magnified now.”

Players across the game – especially in the Astros’ system – know that metrics are influencing how they’re positioned. Some are being asked to play outside of their comfort zones. I asked Everett if buy-in is ever an issue.

“As long as everybody on the staff is on board with it, there’s no problem with buy-in,” said Everett. “One great thing about the Astros organization is that we all agree on it. We have some coaches with pretty good stripes – and they’ve earned their stripes – telling these guys what to do. The players trust us.”

They should certainly trust their minor-league infield coordinator. If they don’t – or even if they do – they should familiarize themselves with the Fielding Bible.



“when they get to certain points in their career, and/or just as the makeup of the team changes, some of your responsibilities do too,” 


Long-time third baseman Matt Dominguez to try his hand at first base, too

Posted on January 24, 2015 By Evan Drellich

Matt Dominguez is going to check out the other corner infield spot.

The Astros starting third baseman from 2013-14 remains a candidate to be the everyday man at the hot corner this year, but he has direct competition from Luis Valbuena, who came over from the Cubs in the Dexter Fowler trade.

Just to keep options open, Dominguez has been asked to order a first-base mitt.

“You get a bigger glove, so it can’t be that hard,” he joked Saturday at Minute Maid Park during FanFest.

Dominguez, 25, has manned first base just once in 950 games as a professional (2009 with High Class A Jupiter while in the Marlins organization), but manager A.J. Hinch told Dominguez he’d like to see him across the diamond.

“(Hinch) thinks I’m going to be a third baseman, but he wants to also help me try to make the team by adding a little more versatility and move around a little bit more,” Dominguez said. “Do whatever I need to do.”

The Astros already have an overload of first base options. Jon Singleton is the incumbent, but Chris Carter and Evan Gattis should both see time there as well. Last year’s backup first basemen, Jesus Guzman (playing in Japan) and Mark Krauss (Angels), are no longer in the organization.

Matt Duffy, a 25-year-old who split time between the corners at Class AAA Oklahoma City last offseason, is a non-roster invitee to spring training.

 “I’m not sure how many guys are going to over at first base, it seems like we got a lot,” Dominguez said.

Even with the crowd, versatility will be something of a buzzword around camp this spring, and not just for Dominguez. Other players as well should be testing new waters.

“As with a lot of players, when they get to certain points in their career, and/or just as the makeup of the team changes, some of your responsibilities do too,” Hinch said. “Carter’s going to be an example. Gattis is an example. Just about every outfielder is an example of playing outside maybe their comfort zone. You know, outside of our catchers and (Jose) Altuve, and probably (Jed) Lowrie, we’re going to preach versatility, and that includes Dominguez putting on a first base glove, learning a little bit on that side. He’s competing for the third base job, which I made clear to him. But adding to his versatility will only help him make this team, him compete to get the at-bats that everybody wants.”

Like Singleton, there’s particular pressure on Dominguez to perform this spring. Both players have power potential, both are coming off down years and both can also be optioned to the minor leagues.

Dominguez, who was the 12th overall pick in the 2007 draft, hit .215 with a .256 on-base percentage and .330 slugging percentage in 2014. Of 24 qualified third baseman, that production was the worst. But now, he’s had the offseason to reflect on what went wrong.

Dominguez once again spent the winter working out at Minute Maid Park, alongside Robbie Grossman, Brett Oberholtzer and others.

“You want to realize what was getting you out and what was getting yourself out, and if it’s more mental or physical — or probably both last year,” Dominguez said. “Trying to figure out what you’re doing wrong and come to spring training with a cooler head and a good approach and keep it simple and try to feel good about it.”

Dominguez said the physical element he was referring to was related to his mechanics as opposed to his health.

“I was fine,” he said. “I was pretty much healthy overall.”

As for Valbuena’s presence, Dominguez said all he can do is play better.

“I got to go out and perform and play better and hopefully I get a chance to play some third base and see what happens,” he said. “I just got to be ready and be in shape and have good at-bats and we’ll see what happens.

“I’m still confident. I think last year’s in the past now. Hopefully, I get a shot in spring training and go out and have some good at-bats and play good defense and (they’ll) make the decision and go from there.”



” With money come advantages.”


How Far Away Are the Phillies?

by Jeff Sullivan - January 22, 2015

The situation in Philadelphia is bleak. I don’t think that statement is going to cause a stir. The Phillies, right now, are projected by Steamer to be the worst team in baseball in the season ahead, even worse than the rival Braves. Even if you might personally find Steamer to be a waste of everyone’s time, the Phillies still look like they’re going to be bad. To make matters worse, the best pitchers are both in their 30s. The best position players are both in their 30s. The 2015 Phillies are going to have some thousands of season ticket holders, and those same season ticket holders are going to experience their own sort of adversity.

One clue as to how bad things are: the team’s own executives are saying, publicly, that the organization is years away from contention. No attempt is being made to sugarcoat the state of things. Another clue as to how bad things are: that’s what a lot of fans want to hear. They’ve longed for this acknowledgment of the need to rebuild. Fans knew some time ago the Phillies needed to change course. Now the Phillies are doing so, willingly stripping down so as to make for a better future. But, how about that future, anyway? Might we be able to figure out how long it will be until the Phillies are decent again?

The on-field product is bad. The farm system has strength at the top, but not a lot of depth. The Phillies, of course, have one thing strongly in their favor: they’ve got money. The problem lately has been spending too much of it on the wrong players, but the cash flow is there. This is a big-budget operation, and a big-budget operation should in theory be able to hasten a return to relevance.

Given what we know, let’s do a little study, trying to find some comparable teams from the past. Let’s go back as far as 1997, so I can use this handy opening-day payroll resource. The first filter: I looked for teams who won no more than 75 games in consecutive seasons. Then, out of those teams, I selected those that had a top-ten payroll in at least the second year. From there, it was just a matter of tracking future success, and I looked for the next year in which the team finished with a winning record. I think in this age with the additional wild cards, a winning record is sufficient to equal relevance and at least borderline contention.

There’s not a big group of comparable teams. Maybe you could’ve guessed as much. But at least that allows us to run through them one by one.

…and we can start by eliminating the 1999-2000 Devil Rays. Though Tampa Bay, in 2000, went on a little bit of a spending spree, that wasn’t really indicative of the resources they had available long-term. The Devil Rays were and still remain a small-budget organization, so they don’t work as a Phillies comp.

All right! We move on to the 2000-2001 Rangers. It was the 2001 Rangers, of course, who added Alex Rodriguez. Immediately, that weakens the comp — the Phillies don’t have arguably the best player in baseball — but Texas kept spending for a few years, and just couldn’t build a winner around their shortstop. The next year, they won 72 games. The year after that, 71. But! Then they won 89. In 2004, the Rangers were competitive. Granted, they wouldn’t then finish with another winning record until 2009, but this might be a bit hopeful. This would suggest the Phillies could be good in 2017.

Next up, the 2002-2003 Mets. Those Mets mirror the Phillies fairly well: high peak, deep playoff runs, sharp decline. The Mets, in 2003, had baseball’s second-highest opening-day payroll, and they lost 95 games. The next year, they won 71 times. The next year, they won 83 times! In 2005, the Mets finished above .500. In 2006, they lost in Game 7 of the NLCS. This would put the Phillies in line to be decent again in 2016. Working in the favor of the 2005 Mets: they had a 22-year-oldJose Reyes, and a 22-year-old David Wright. That team also paid for free agentsPedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran. But, that’s money for you. The Phillies have it.

Moving on, we hit the 2004-2005 Mariners. This is another pretty good comp, as the Mariners were a real good team that got old fast. And wouldn’t you know it, but the Mariners subsequently won 78 games, and then 88 games. So within two years, the Mariners challenged for the playoffs. That would, again, line the Phillies up for a decent 2016. But it’s worth remembering that, by their statistics, the 2007 Mariners weren’t actually good. They were helped by a lot of luck. The Mariners didn’t become an actual good team until just last year. But, thanks to luck, the Mariners won more often than they lost in both 2007 and 2009. And the Phillies have more money than the Mariners did.

That takes us to the 2006-2007 Orioles. The Orioles are a fringe candidate; they only just barely made the payroll cutoff in 2007. They used to be a bigger-budget operation than they’ve been within the past decade. In 1998, they were first in payroll. In 1999, fifth. In 2000, fourth. Maybe that’s a better comp, since those were definitely bad Orioles teams. Here’s the important thing: no matter which Orioles team you think is the better comp, the Orioles only reached a winning record in 2012. They’ve been good since, but that path would put the Phillies several years away. This would be a real bad path.

And now we find the 2010-2011 Cubs. The Cubs were third in payroll in 2010. In 2011, they were sixth. They won a combined 146 games, just like the Phillies have. Now, the Cubs haven’t actually gotten back to a winning record yet. It looks like they’ll get there this coming season. If not this year, then probably next year. The point being, the Cubs seem relevant, now. That would line the Phillies up for a competitive 2018, after some years of developing excitement over the farm system. The Cubs, as you know, went through an organizational overhaul, in an effort to get smarter. The Phillies might take heed.

The remaining comps aren’t great comps. The 2011-2012 Marlins showed up, thanks to Jeffrey Loria’s spending spree, but that lasted exactly no time at all. The Marlins have gone right back to spending just about nothing. And then there are the 2012-2013 Blue Jays. The Jays immediately finished with a winning record in 2014, but they weren’t going through the same sort of process; they kept the core together, and were trying to win, with a little better performance and injury luck. They’re in pretty good shape, for the time being.

We have a very small pool, here. But we’ve gotten this far, so we might as well analyze it. The Phillies are a bad team, with money. The season ahead is almost certain to be lousy. Based on the Mariners and the Mets, the Phillies might be able to be decent again as soon as 2016. It would be 2017, based on the Rangers. Also, perhaps, based on the future money the Phillies already have on the books. The Cubs path would see the Phillies take a step forward in 2018. And the disaster scenario is represented by the Orioles. The Orioles are what happens when young players don’t develop and money continues to be spent poorly. It’s important that the Phillies don’t get stuck in too extended a period of failure, because then revenues drop, and dropping revenues makes it only more difficult to get good and stay good.

Pat Gillick has the idea, basically:

Pat Gillick offered fans some much-needed candor in the fall when he said the Phillies would not contend again until 2017 or ’18.

Gillick has not shortened his timetable.

“Yeah, maybe further out,” Gillick said on Tuesday night before the Phillies’ winter banquet at the Reading Crowne Plaza Hotel. “Maybe ’18. You need about two or three years.”

The timeline would be sped up if the Phillies could strike gold with their top prospects. If, say, Maikel Franco and J.P. Crawford could become the Phillies’ version of Wright and Reyes, well, there’s your next core, along with Aaron Nola. Maybe Domonic Brown becomes something. Maybe Cody Asche becomes something. There’s observable talent in the bullpen. Maybe good talent comes back for Cole Hamels, and maybe, who knows, the Phillies make an international splash or two. With money come advantages. The Phillies have squandered it lately, but that doesn’t guarantee it’ll repeat in the future.

The chance is there. This doesn’t have to be several consecutive years of lousy baseball. But, most teams don’t strike gold with all their top prospects. And as far as the Cubs are concerned, this new era has come about thanks to a whole new front office. The Phillies know there’s a way out of this. They just can’t know yet if they’re on it.



"Look, these contracts are dumb to begin with,"


Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Seven-year deals for pitchers ... big trouble

By Jayson Stark

Breaking: Washington Nationals announce they've signed Max Scherzer to a seven-year, $210 million contract. 

You can't measure seven years in baseball with a yardstick, a ruler or even Altuves. So we're here to measure it in a different way. (You're welcome.) 

Seven seasons ago -- that would be in 2008, if you’re not calculating along at home -- 13 pitchers showed up on at least one ballot 
in the Cy Young voting. Six of them are retired now (Mike MussinaRoy HalladayMariano RiveraBrad LidgeRyan Dempster and Brandon Webb). 

Of the other seven, 
Daisuke Matsuzaka is headed back to Japan, Johan Santana hasn't won a big league game since June of 2012, CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee spent a combined 200 days on the disabled list last year and, while his team was winning the World Series, Tim Lincecum was starting as many games last October as Juan Marichal. 

And that leaves two others, 
Ervin Santana and Francisco Rodriguez, who are, amazingly, still alive and well. But they also have changed teams a combined seven times since then. 

So … would you give a seven-year contract to any pitcher? 

That's a decision the Washington Nationals had to make this week. We know now what they concluded. What we don't know is how these next seven years, for their newest ace, Max Scherzer, will turn out. But we can sure guess. 

And we can sum up that guess in four words: Good luck on that. 

"We've gone through this a lot," said one executive whose team has pursued big-ticket free-agent starters. "And there's just a massive risk in these kinds of deals. Massive." 

And that's just a general assessment -- of any deal like that, for any pitcher -- coming from a team that will admit to making offers of five years and up for other aces, despite that risk. 

We'll get into the factors that make Scherzer in particular a gamble later. But first, let's see what history tells us about contracts this long. 

According to ESPN's trusty Stats & Info gurus, Scherzer is the seventh free-agent pitcher in history to agree to a deal of seven years or longer. Here's a look at the other six, ranked from best to worst: 

Kevin Brown

Contract details: 7 years, $105 million. Years: 1999-2005. Age in first season: 34. Total wins above replacement (WAR): 22.9. 

The Dodgers got two fabulous seasons from Brown right out of the chute (31-15, 2.80 ERA, 68 starts, 154 ERA-Plus). But then came those final five seasons, in which he made more than 22 starts just once and spent the final two years of both his contract and career with the Yankees. And we'd still rank this as the best of all of these deals. 

CC Sabathia

Contract details: 7 years, $161 million*. Years: 2009-2015. Age in first season: 28. Total WAR: 21.6. (*Opted out of contract after 2011 and signed five-year extension with Yankees.) 

We actually should use multiple asterisks to assess this contract. For one thing, Sabathia opted out of it. For another, it would still be a work in progress even if he hadn't. If he contributes anything at all this year, he'd move up to first on this list in total WAR. And regardless, you could still argue he should rank above Brown, because CC's first three seasons as a Yankee were so dazzling (59-23, 3.18, zero missed starts, one World Series parade, 138 ERA-Plus). 

But obviously, those seven years in total are not ending well. Sabathia is 32-23, 4.21, over the past three seasons, with four trips to the disabled list and a bunch of question marks heading into this year. 

Barry Zito

Contract details: 7 years, $126 million. Years: 2007-2013. Age in first season: 29. Total WAR: 3.0. 

One thing you can say for Zito: He kept showing up for work. Other than 2011, when a foot issue sent him to the disabled list twice, he didn't miss a turn (not voluntarily, anyway) in any of his other six seasons. That -- and his save-the-season masterpiece in Game 5 of the 2012 NLCS -- would be the good news. The bad news is, his ERA was north of 4.00 in every one of his seven seasons. And his ERA-Plus of 87 tied 
Edinson Volquez for second worst (ahead of just Livan Hernandez, at 85) among all pitchers who made at least 140 starts in those seven years. Which could have something to do with why Zito often shows up in those Worst Contract Ever debates. 

Mike Hampton

Contract details: 8 years, $121 million. Years: 2001-2008. Age in first season: 28. Total WAR: 2.9. 

At least Zito will always have Hampton to keep him company on those Worst Contract Ever lists. Let the record show Hampton did make the All-Star team in Year 1 in Colorado (despite a 5.41 ERA). And he was a definite offensive upgrade, over just about any pitcher on earth. (He hit .315/.329/.552/.881, with 10 homers, in his two seasons as a Rockie. Really.) But his day job? That didn't go too well. He had a 5.36 ERA in his time in Colorado. It took one of the wildest, we'll-pay-you-zillions-to-take-the-guy-off-our-hands, three-team trades in history to get him out of town. And while Hampton had his moments in Atlanta in 2003-04, he also missed over 100 starts (including two full seasons) over the final four years of this deal. And his kids never did fall in love with that Colorado school system, either, by the way. 

Wayne Garland

Contract details: 10 years, $23 million. Years: 1977-1986. Age in first season: 26. Total WAR: 0.7. 

Granted, Garland signed this deal in a very different time and a very different place, for very different moolah. (Just so you know, if you adjust for inflation, his contract would have been worth $89.85 million in current dollars.) But it was still quite the disaster. Garland went 28-48 for the Indians, with a 4.50 ERA and an 89 ERA-Plus. And the highlight of his career in Cleveland was losing 19 games in Year 1. After that, he made a total of 50 starts, never made more than 20 starts in any other season and pitched zero innings over the final five years of his deal. So, um, that went well. 

Masahiro Tanaka

Contract details: 7 years, $155 million, plus $20 million posting fee*. Years: 2014-2020. Age in first season: 25. Total WAR: 3.3. (*Can opt out of contract after fourth season.) 

If you were assigning a grade to this deal, it would have to be incomplete. Wouldn't it? Tanaka is only heading into Year 2. But he missed almost half a season in Year 1. And he's still pitching with a partially torn ligament in his elbow. So as awesome as he was before he got hurt, he's the living definition of "massive risk." If all goes well, Tanaka will opt out in just three years (which means the Yankees will have been on the hook for $27 million a year, counting the posting fee, even if he winds up missing 12 to 18 months with Tommy John surgery). And if all doesn't go so well? Uh-oh. There's another six years and $133 million left on the books, no matter what. 

OK, so what have we learned from reviewing those six deals? Well, "buyer beware" would pretty much cover it. And that goes not just for these contracts, but for the seven-year extensions for 
Felix HernandezJustin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw which are currently in progress. 

"Hey, at least Kershaw is the best pitcher on the planet," said one NL exec. "And the planet is a big place." 

But that doesn't make him any less risky, on this or any other planet. And Scherzer is no exception, no matter how Scott Boras wants to spin it. 

Executives of three different teams reminded us that the reason the Diamondbacks traded Scherzer -- five years ago -- was specifically because they were convinced he was going to break down. And even though they've turned out to be wrong, obviously, over the past five years, are they going to be wrong over a period that now has to span 12 years? History says that's highly unlikely. 

We've also had front-office men from a number of clubs tell us this winter that they believed 
Jon Lester (who got six years, $155 million from the Cubs) was a better bet to hold up physically, and adjust as his stuff changes, than Scherzer is. 

"I actually think Lester is a pretty unique case," said another NL executive. "His delivery is awesome. He's got great pitchability. And he's exactly the kind of guy who could lose a tick [in velocity] and reinvent himself if he has to will himself to do that." 

"What makes Scherzer great now is that his fastball is so intimidating," said an AL exec. "But he's going to start losing some of that velocity. So does he have the gift to have that second career that all the great pitchers have, to win without the same velocity? Honestly, I have more of a problem saying that he does than I do with Lester. Even though he's developed more pitchability over the last couple of years, Verlander and CC both had pitchability beyond their power, too. And they're still having troubles." 

This same exec then asked the question that actually planted the idea for this opus: What's the last contract of even six years that worked out -- for any pitcher? Well, we looked. And the correct answer is: Mike Mussina. 

Mussina signed a six-year, $88.5 million deal with the Yankees before the 2001 season. He averaged 31 starts and 200 innings a year over those six seasons, making only one trip to the disabled list because of an arm issue, and the Yankees went 114-72 in games he started. So even all these years later, he still looms as the poster boy for "what you hope you find when you do these types of deals," said one GM. 

"Look, these contracts are dumb to begin with," said another GM. "Really, only a three- or four-year deal makes sense. Seven or eight is what the players want. So they should come down to five or six, as opposed to seven. But here's the thing: It's all market-based, so you do it. But rationally, from a baseball point of view, it doesn't make sense. And we all know that." 

But incredibly, they do it anyhow. They hand out these contracts. They hold their breath. They pray for a parade in the first couple of years. And then they hope they don't have to spend the next five years hearing anyone invoke the name, "Mike Hampton."